So today is the day I quit smoking. Sixteen years in the making and I have smoked my final cigarette, hopefully for the rest of my life. I say hopefully not because I doubt whether I will quit or not, but hopefully because I have experienced enough in life to know that sometimes things change.
I know however that not smoking will now be the status-quo for me, and that any major events, changes or slip ups in the far future aside. I am now a non-smoker.
Even saying I have to quit smoking fills me with dread. I have been a smoker longer than I have maintained anything else in my life. I have indulged the habit for more than 50 percent of the time I have existed on this Earth. That ritual of a smoke with coffee, a smoke after a meal, a smoke before bed, and pretty much every other activity I take part in, has become so strongly engrained with the idea of who I am, that I know it is going to be tough.
I have to take a lifelong habit and completely cut it out of my life. No small thing. The Champix I have been taking is making it easier, but not easy. Thoughts float into my mind constantly, trying to rationalize a continuation of my habit.
“Maybe you should wait until you finish your book, you might not be able to write without them.”
“Why don’t you wait until you have been at the gym longer, so you really feel the difference?”
“Why bother quitting at all? It’s not affecting you that badly.”
The reasons and excuses keep coming, but thanks in part to the Champix, and in part to just really not wanting to be addicted any more, the power these thoughts had over me are weak. Now when they pop into my head I can counter them with realities.
I want to run again, and my chest hurts when I run as a smoker.
I want to be able to sit inside at a restaurant rather than looking for outside tables in the sun or rain.
I want to be able to keep writing for more than an hour at a time before needing a smoke break.
I want to wake up in the morning and not think about smoking.
The reasons against hold a lot more sway right now than the reasons for. Which is why I feel so confident this time. I am pretty sure I will be cranky as a mofo for a week or two. I know I will get depressed every now and then and want to just stop it by lighting up. However I will not let these emotions get the better of me.
Yesterday I rolled up the final cigarettes from my packet of tobacco. When I finished rolling I had seven cigarettes lying in a neat pile. I looked at them with a sense of dread, the same feeling I had about waking up this morning knowing I could not reach for the smokes. How was I going to change this habit? Could I really quit smoking for good?
I have given up things before. I have had to ride out the addiction of other drugs and did so because it was what I needed. Now I know I need to quit smoking, and I know that like my previous experiences, I can do it. It may take a few months, or even a few years, but eventually I will be over it. My new life will embellish the reasons why I quit in the first place. To be able to run, to wake up without a pain in my chest, just being able to sneeze without feeling like I can’t breathe will be reason enough!
I don’t want to get older and have smoking be another one of those things I wish I could do differently. I don’t want to develop emphysema or cancer from something which when I think about it, I really don’t want to be doing.
The last few cigarettes I have smoked, I have made myself acknowledge. I have told myself to feel how they burn my throat, how my chest tightens as I inhale the smoke, how I cough after every few drags. I want to remember how I have to drink a glass of coke or coffee with each smoke because I don’t like the way it tastes. I want to remember how it yellows my teeth and turns my tongue white, or how it gives me stomach cramps. I want to remember why I quit smoking.
Even Sarah has joined in, commenting on how I smell every time I come in from a smoke. Which reminds me how many times I have walked out on a show I am enjoying, or left a restaurant while waiting for the main course, because I couldn’t wait twenty minutes for another drag.
There are so many reasons to quit smoking, and as much as it hurts right now not being able to light up, the pros and cons so obviously hang in favor of not smoking. I hate being a slave to anything, I hate not having control of my emotions and actions. It is one of the reasons I don’t drink or do drugs anymore. The effects of smoking may not be as obvious as these other addictions, but they control me, and I will not allow them to do so any longer.
So wish me luck as I make my way into day one of the rest of my life. Nicotine free and no longer a slave to the smoke.
I know I can do it, but more than that. I will do it!